Friday, November 5, 2010
Greetings from Laurel Canyon!
It’s not easy being a rock n roll pioneer, but it is fucking cool in my book.
You talk about day
I'm talking 'bout night time
When the monsters call out
The names of men
Bob Dylan knows
And I bet Alan Freed did
There are things in night
That are better not to behold
I’m not sure what Marc Bolan was thinking when he wrote “Ballrooms Of Mars?” All I do know is that he name checks Alan Freed in the same verse as Bob Dylan.
I’ve always lived off the notion that of those of us behind the scenes create the back-bone of the history of rock n roll. I often find “our” histories more heroic and fascinating than the stars on stage. Like Alan Freed, the names Lisa Fancher and Frontier Records mean something to me. The extremely cool record jackets bookmark a period of my life, before CD players, when I was young and new to this funny place I’ve grown to love, California.
This week’s Idelic Hour muse is a tribute to the 30th anniversary of legendary Frontier Records. This weekend the label is celebrating with a 30th Anniversary Show at The Echoplex in Silverlake. This week also features my first ever on-air interview. Lisa and I spent the hour playing cool records and chatting about music and LA past and present.
An hour wasn’t enough time but we did get to spin a few classics, The Circle Jerks, Salvation Army, Adolescents, Suicidal and Christan Death. We even squeeze in few new records from OFF!, Circle Pit and Fresh & Onlys.
Froniter Records, The Idelic Hour salutes you!
The Idelic Hit of the Week:
idelicsounds.com | @sidelic
Posted by Jon at 4:36 PM
Frontier Records founder Lisa Fancher concludes her week with us today which celebrated label’s 3oth Anniversary. (Right - the 30th.)
But the party ain't over yet - in fact it hasn't even started. If you're in LA Sunday night, the smart money is on the label's 30th Anniversary Show at the Echoplex. But we'll let Lisa fill you in and she wraps it up.
ALL OF MY FRIENDS WERE THERE… NOT JUST MY FRIENDS BUT THEIR BEST FRIENDS TOO
"'Ziggy Stardust came out 5 years ago, and now it's SHIT! In five years, punk will be SHIT!"
—Tomata DuPlenty, The Screamers, 1977
If there was one thing I seriously tried to avoid this year it was doing a big event type of a thing. Though we had fun parties like our 7th year anniversary at the Ambassador Hotel where Tommy Boy's Tommy Silverman showed up (and told me if I paid royalties, I was doing something wrong), Posh Boy (who I got into a screaming war with, just like the good old days) and culminated with us throwing chaise lounges onto the lawn (poor man's Led Zep). I still have bad memories of a Frontier showcase on Feb. 1990. (10th year anniversary!) It seemed like a great plan in theory—American Music Club, Thin White Rope and Young Fresh Fellows at the I-Beam during the Gavin Convention.
Frontier didn't even really belong at Gavin since we weren't exactly a hit machine so it was humbling to be handed such a great opportunity and with the core of our roster, except for the Dharma Bums. In between setting the gig up and its execution, my dear friends in AMC and I became embroiled in a nasty contractual dispute. I'd signed a deal with RCA and Thin White Rope had just released "Sack Full of Silver" but AMC's management had some major beefs. Which was fine, happens all the time.
One of those people that I would never kept this label alive without was my attorney, Ashley. Actually his name was S.D. Ashley but he liked being called Ashley for reasons unknown. His advice was sage and impeccable but I rarely heeded it the first time because I'm a stubborn jerk that thinks they know everything, and when he told me I was never going to win this one and to let it go, that's exactly what I should have done.
The day before the showcase, our publicist had faxed their manager an YFFS 8X10 of a wrench (in-joke, don't ask) with some handwritten hype on it about how well TWR's album was doing, a futile attempt to sway their manager our way. She, who was pregnant at the time, told them we had faxed her a picture of a coat hanger! You can imagine this didn't go over very well with them… I called everyone and thought I had smoothed it over and it seemed as if we were all committed to working it out.
AMC were on first so I was flashing my backstage pass to the door guy so I could go backstage as Mark Eitzel was heading toward me and shot me a "don't talk to me now or ever" look. I had been deluding myself, I saw it just like that. I know this sounds girlish and dramatic but the thought I was going to lose AMC was inconceivable, that it would actually cause me to die. The typically professional way I handled this epiphany was to commence drinkin' an ocean of vodka. I mean even for a drinker, I jumped right in there. I watched AMC play a couple of songs when I began to cry uncontrollably. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a crier—I tried it once and only dust comes out of my tear ducts! Meanwhile people are coming up to me to say hi or congratulations so I had to run before they saw me transforming into Ms. Hyde. Yep, I was definitely having a nervous breakdown. Believe me, I knew… It's like the inner and outer turmoil of a panic attack and a heart attack squared, incrementally increasing by the minute. You should try it sometime! In public.
I propelled myself down the stairs onto Haight Street and threw myself into a cab, leaving my fearless employees behind at the showcase and in the dark about my whereabouts. I spent the night in the hotel bathtub completely hysterical but as you can see, I didn't die. AMC and I parted ways somewhat amicably—I am not alleging that they were not wrong and I don't think I was in the wrong—we just could never recover from such rancor, and there was no point in trying. It took us a while to be on speaking terms again but we're better friends than ever before, Vudi even came to my 100th birthday last month. And though I lost the license to ENGINE AND CALIFORNIA decades ago, I connected AMC to the world and I'll couldn't be any prouder of that.
Much earlier this year, I hired Josh Mills' It's Alive Media to do press for the 30th anniversary, hoping no one would notice Frontier hadn't released any records this year. It's a cash flow thing people, maybe you've heard something about it? Josh kept saying I needed an event to convince the scribes we were sizzling hot. And I'm thinking no no no nooo showcases, please. History, does this count for nothing? I genuinely have learned, reluctantly, to listen but in truth it was Josh that approached Michael Stock from Part Time Punks to put on a Frontier show, not me.
Thank goodness my fantastically loyal Adolescents said yes, because they really didn't have to. One biggie on board! I ran into the Pontiac Bros' Ward Dotson and Matt Simon at Jeff Palo's birthday party and got a yes from them. Mike Atta from Middle Class was there but I decided to ask him privately since he told me about a hundred times that they'd never play live again. Though Ward and Matt were sworn to secrecy, Mike already knew and he said yes but we accidentally made his life hell by announcing it before he'd had a chance to discuss it with his brother, the lead singer, Jeff. Doh!
Thank goodness the Flyboys are able to be there (best band on the Masque reunion!) since they were the first release and this is the last time they will play live. I really hoped that Thin White Rope would make it and I felt awful for bothering Guy—I knew he wouldn't even as I pitched it to him. That was a regretful n-o, as was the Three O'Clock. TSOL said yes but though we were dying to, we couldn't advertise them until after Halloween… The Deadbeats, not an official Frontier act but on Dangerhouse Vol. 1, said yes and they were the co-second greatest band at the Masque reunion show.
In mid-October, Betty and I flew to Seattle for a mini-Frontier 30th show with Young Fresh Fellows and the Dharma Bums. My buddy N8 Slusarenko who designed this fantastic color poster fetched up from the airport and we were soon joined by my erstwhile bff Gina Arnold. We toured the whole of Europe together while tagging along on a Bums/YFF tour in 1992. Also former Frontier flack John Troutman, who needs to move back to Los Angeles stat. I think the Young Fresh Fellows are better than when they were around the first time, the opened and Scott McCaughey brought HIS bff—Peter Buck. Watching Dharma Bum Eric Lovre play, I time traveled back in time to one of their first L.A. shows at the Coconut Teaser. Somehow I blurted to Eric (somehow = vodka) that the band might really go somewhere if he didn't play guitar just like Peter Buck. I came very close to getting knocked out and I vowed to be more tactful in the future! So here I am at the Croc, watching Peter Buck laser focused on Eric's distinctive guitar playing, thinking sometimes it pays to be blunt especially when you're a girl and there's about a 70% chance you won't get punched in the face.
After the show I was relieved to find that showcases don't make me go insane when I got a text from Michael Stock saying "The Avengers said YES." The Stains don't have a Frontier LP out yet but they will next year. Time they got their day in the sun at long last, get there early or be a loser.
Here we are, two days away… It's a good kind of terror. For the next 48 hours, I shall be as elusive as Rick Rubin. Nine amazing bands for $20, get outta here! I wish my Ashley was still alive to see it. He would never believe to learn that I can let go, but I have.
So many of my good friends throughout the decades will be there—I know because they asked me to be on the list! It would be nice if I remembered to "Rise Above" but so much of the time I didn't. To everyone I ever got in a fight with privately or publicly, or don't talk to anymore because now isn't the time... To anyone I ever sent a pig's head to or said terrible things about in print because I was bitter that you're rich and I'm not—I apologize profusely. This label may never get its due and one of the down sides of not having partners is that I have no one to blame expect myself. Damn it.
Without you, I'm nothing: Betty Fresh, who else can say they have one employee that does the work of ten (while I do the word of zero)? Steve at Rainbo Records, who rescued me from the clutches of Alco when they simply would not press the Jerks LP even though I paid them in ADVANCE. Without Steve's 30 year patience and tolerance for my own particular interpretation of what paying on time means, we would not be here. Hail to my new distributor, ILC—when my previous distributor died (I won't speak its name) in spring 2009, the obvious thing to do was go with a big indie distributor, and I could have done. Safety last: I will go with idealistic and enthusiastic kids over what has the outward appearance of stability any day. I didn't go to business school but I know what time it is! Thanks to the fantastic Jean Luc Gaudry from Headline Records, our designated pop-up store for the evening—he's celebrating Headline's 15 year anniversary. Toddler! And extra special thank you to Jon Meyers for letting me take over TVD, it's been great fun. At least for me!
Long may you run, everyone from my past and present. Last but not least, Free the West Memphis Three!
Posted by Jon at 3:41 PM
If it's the first Friday of the month, it must be the return of our friend (and fellow DC Record Fair collaborator) DJ Nitekrawler's funky 45 throwdown: MONEYTOWN!
Little Miss Whiskey's Golden Dollar (1104 H St., NE DC) | 10pm-3am, no cover
Lots and lots of drink options and a killer soundsystem with your host: DJ Nitekrawler, and extra special guest DJ: Chairman Mao (Egotrip, RedBullMusicAcademy, NYC)
About our guest: This month we're honored to be joined by NYC’s “Chairman” Jefferson Mao. Jeff, as he is known in civilian life, is the founding resident of the Rotten Apple’s late, lamented Bumpshop funk & soul soiree at the also late & great APT.
When he’s not writing for XXL, Wax Poetics, or some other nationally-distributed publication, or hosting his two monthly interwebz radio shows (‘Across 135th Street’ for redbullmusicacademy.com , and ‘Spine Blowing Decisions’ for www.spinetv.net), he’s busy conspiring with his ego trip collective cohorts on such media takeover endeavors as ego trip’s Book of Rap Lists, ego trip’s Big Book of Racism!, ego trip’s The (White) Rapper Show & Miss Rap Supreme, and the oft-delayed but one-of-these-days-forthcoming egotripland.com.
Therefore, you can be sure he's got the knowledge AND the skills, so don't miss this master killing it on Moneytown's decks this Friday!
Posted by Jon at 9:56 AM
Our Memphis trip will definitely go down as one of the best experiences we’ve ever had. We arrived in Memphis at 6am on a red-eye flight from L.A. We were dead tired. I think we were all a little drunk from the night before too. That aside, we were stoked to be in Memphis. The history, food etc… Memphis is a great town.
Ardent had set everything up for us (Gig, Housing, Museum and Studio tours, etc.). Red carpet treatment. We arrived at our hotel (Hunt Phelan) which is definitely the nicest hotel we have ever stayed in as a band.
It was crazy. We walked in, took the tour of the premises. We were staying in the classic suite (two bedrooms, living room, Temperpedic mattresses, room service etc.). I was totally waiting to get punk’d. Have some dude roll out and say “JUST KIDDING, you’re sleeping on my couch tonight”. But it didn’t happen! Apparently the Rolling Stones had stayed in this room. True or not, it was nice to hear.
We explored Memphis a little and went to Sun Studios, which was very special. We ate some BBQ at Paynes then headed over to Ardent to record a one hour live session. When we arrived at Ardent it was pretty surreal. I was pretty nervous because I knew we were going to meet Jody Stephens and John Fry and then have to perform in this studio that has so much history. But, as things tend to unfold, everybody was so nice and welcoming. It was really fun. We played in front of a little audience and hung out for a bit. We had a gig that night at the Young Avenue Deli. A few our friends that live around the area came out. A lot of the folks that were at studio taping came down and we had a great show.
We were the only people in the hotel that night, So we could be as loud as we wanted. It was pretty ridiculous. The next day we rolled out of bed and headed back to Ardent to meet with John Fry. He drove us down to the Stax museum and gave us a free tour. It was a one of kind experience hearing him talk about Stax, Ardent, Memphis and all these artists. He spoke of our heroes like he would about his family and neighbors. It was really comforting to hear the stories.
We all geeked out for a few hours at the museum but had to make our way to Nashville that day. What a truly amazing experience. Thanks Ardent, Memphis. You’re awesome and we can’t wait to come back!
Enter to win Le Switch's CD "The Rest of Me is Space" by simply leaving a comment, your name, and a contact email address in the comments to this post. We'll choose one winner each Friday for that week's giveaway which ALSO includes the entire Ardent Music catalog. (That's just 2 artists at this point, but hey, who's counting?)
To hear more great Ardent Sessions please visit Ardent Presents.
Posted by Jon at 8:09 AM